Nocturnes,Kazuo Ishiguro – A Review by Kat Ngoi
NOCTURNES, internationally-acclaimed writer Kazuo Ishiguro’s (best known for his masterpiece The Remains of the Day) first collection of short stories after volumes of award-winning novels, leaves you pining like a lost lover for what you wish were happier endings and perhaps most of all–closure. However, the style and prose which the familiar single narration weaves each poignant story is typical Ishiguro—rich and rewarding, masterful storytelling at its best.
Each deliberately short lived tale is threaded with the same theme of heartache, regret and disappointment of promises receded, the continuous strife of holding on to life’s hopes and lost dreams. The result is a play of romance, marital love and discord, and the inevitable regrets that lie await in the passage of time. These interwoven subjects pepper the five stories that unfortunately, either purely due to their short length or lack of a satisfying finish, fail to live up to their initial premise as paralleled by the dashed or unfulfilled dreams of the characters.
In CROONER, the first story, a jazz guitarist from a café band in Venice chances upon his late mother’s music idol Tony Gardner and his courage to extend acquaintance with the fading star is rewarded subsequently with a romantic assignment to play aside the aging crooner in a moonlight serenade to his wife steered in a gondola. The guitarist Janeck soon realizes that beneath the romantic gesture lies a grim truth: their marriage has ended and that was an unrequited Gardner’s romantic farewell to his best friend and soon-to-be-divorced wife, Lindy.
The same wife makes a return in another quite unrelated tale NOCTURNE, of her chance meeting and brief friendship with an undiscovered musician with all talent and no looks—just the reverse is true for Lindy Gardner herself. The unlikely pair strike up a memorable episode of nightly escapades in the same hotel they are holed up in while healing from their cosmetic surgical scars. Turns out that they each have hearts as bandaged as their faces, and both require deep healing of the emotional kind.
Having Nocturnes for company is like taking a slow, pensive stroll by the moonlight while a string quartet’s faint music is resonating either in your imagination or in the faraway distance. While you long for daylight to break the melancholy, alas, time seems to stand still, dusk remains and so does your shattered heart.